Elizabeth Peterson has taken the reins of the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art following the retirement after three decades of Lloyd Nick, the museum’s founding director.
Peterson, who was born and raised in New York, received her undergraduate degree in fine arts from Wells College and a graduate degree in art history and conservation from the Pratt Institute—both schools located in her home state.
Since her arrival in mid-August, Peterson has visited the High Museum of Art and has settled into a residence near Lenox Road. She shared her thoughts and plans for the future of the museum with writer Martha Nodar and Reporter Newspapers.
Q: What attracted you to the position of director of the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art? What do you expect to accomplish?
A: Many factors aligned to make this the perfect move for my family and a dream position for me. I love the museum’s mission and history. I’m thrilled to be part of a small liberal arts university community. I’m particularly keen to continue to expand student involvement in all aspects of the museum /gallery and to make the exhibition program an integral part of the students’ learning experience at OU.
Q: Did you curate the current exhibit or did you have assistance?
A: I curated the exhibition after being inspired by the Oglethorpe campus reading of Tim O’Brien’s book “The Things They Carried.” O’Brien is a Vietnam veteran. His book is a fictionalized account of many facts such as having images of his friends dying. O’Brien talks about the things the soldiers carried with them, such as ammunition, cigarettes, and letters, but also psychological scars that many veterans of the war are still carrying today. I did have help with setting up the event from student workers. Junior Kiara Mora installed the lighting and has been particularly helpful.
Q: What kind of exhibits do you think the community at large could expect from you?
A: I will embrace the mission of OUMA to present exhibitions which are international, spiritual or realistic in scope. I’m very interested in the way the arts can bridge cultural divides and be utilized in humanitarian ways. I want to show cultural connections that transcend language. I enjoy a variety of media, both traditional and nontraditional. I feel I can take the mission of the museum forward with respect from the past at the same time.
Q: What do you like best about Atlanta?
A: How green it is. I think Atlanta offers the best combination of country and city all in one. I also enjoy the slower pace of life here in the South.
Q: What do you like best about Oglethorpe?
A: Everything—the students, faculty, and staff, and—the stunning campus. I am impressed with how well-rounded the students are here.